Brexit: Remain and the Unicorn

Brexit: Remain and the Unicorn

We gave people a choice, back in 2016 between carrying on with David Cameron, with life as it was, crap as it was, or a unicorn. The unicorn was Leave. The unicorn was a promise: “Leave and everything will get better”. If you give someone a choice between remain as they are, or fly with the magical unicorn, and where they are is bad, they will vote for that unicorn.

The people who most often voted Remain are in my city in Oxford, they are doing well, and in Cambridge, in London, and in Bristol and in Manchester… but in most of the country most people voted for the unicorn. And the really difficult thing between now and the 29th of March, is telling people: “sorry it has always been a unicorn, you were mislead into believing you were being offered a choice, a real choice, it was never a real choice“.

These are a  few words from towards the end of  a lecture given on December 17th 2018 in Nuneaton:

Click play, above, to hear the full talk given at King Edward VI College, Nuneaton, Warwickshire on 17/12/2018.


The book this talk is based on is published on January 15th 2019: Rule Britannia: Brexit and the end of Empire.


Most people who voted Leave lived in the South of England, but not in the affluent south:

Areas are shaded by whether a majority who voted voted to Leave or Remain and also by the proportions voting in these ways

Areas are shaded by whether a majority who voted voted to Leave or Remain and also by the proportions voting in these ways


If you are interested in medicines, if you are interested in aeroplanes, if you are interested in food even – everything becomes very tricky if there is a hard Brexit. The Conservative party are currently having the greatest argument within their party that they have had since the debate over the Corn Laws. They are a party split between a small group of MPs who believe it is possible to Leave with a hard Brexit, and most members of the Parliamentary Conservative party who don’t believe that – and who want a deal with rest of the EU. And then there are so many other MPs in the House of Commons who want to Remain, and want no deal.


If you are the Prime Minster, or a new Prime Minister elected by MPs, and you had to break it to the country that they had been offered a unicorn – the way to do it is to leave it to the very last minute – as project fear turns into real fear.


At some point in March you (if you are Prime Minister) write a letter and you rescind Article 50. But even after that happens you are still going to have chaos, because some people are going to be so very very very angry – for a very long time.


Nuneaton, December 17th 2018


If you want to read more, then there is more here, or – if you just want to listen – just click play below….


For the ‘Brexit 2019 soundtrack’:



Merry Christmas!